I am both happy and nervous to be a student again. Over the past several years, primarily in response to my own experience as a patient, I've become increasingly interested in the field of integrative medicine. Last year I decided to solidify my commitment and expand my knowledge, enrolling in the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Fellowship, directed by integrative medicine pioneer, Dr. Andrew Weil. I am one of eighty-eight physicians and advanced practice nurses enrolled in the Class of 2018. I am enjoying the material immensely. I'm already incorporating what I've learned into the education of my peers, learners and the care of my patients.
Through personal and professional experience, I've found Western Medicine is good at prolonging life, but the pills and procedures we prescribe often come at the expense of optimum health. Western Medicine is very siloed, and little thought is given to a patient’s health outside of the specialist's silo. Siloed practice, along with specialty specific pharmaceuticals and procedures, may be good at solving individual medical problems, but this approach also causes new issues by throwing a patient's delicate homeostasis off kilter. I've learned health cannot be derived solely from a pill or procedure. Instead, optimal health is derived from the synergistic balance of body, mind and soul.
Allopathic physicians often forget the body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. Through the medicinal use of food, manipulation of the mind-body connection, and use of other complementary techniques, we can positively impact our patient's health. Despite their effectiveness, the interventions of integrative medicine are inexpensive and thus can be used to help us control runaway costs in healthcare.
I've had a lifelong interest in the impact of nutrition on health. I have done extensive reading on macronutrients and vitamins. Most recently, I've become interested in the microbiome, inflammation, and their influence on health. Thus, Andrew Weil's program, with its focus on the anti-inflammatory diet, was naturally attractive to me. I am currently conducting a few studies in this realm including looking at the practices of healthcare and their impact on obesity, and the use prebiotics in perioperative care. I plan many more.
In the two-years of study at University of Arizona, I’m learning about nutrition, ancient therapies such as Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, and how to manipulate the mind-body connection. The program was particularly attractive to me because of its focus on anti-inflammatory foods and the manipulation health through diet. In addition, I’m getting to know like-minded physicians and nurses across a broad range of medical specialties. Following my studies, I plan to formalize my commitment by sitting for integrative medicine boards. At the completion of my fellowship, I plan to use my new knowledge to improve the lives of my peers, learners and patients.
It is quite fun (and intimidating) being a student again, but I've found, throughout my life, in order to improve I must leave my comfort zone and pursue new endeavors, no matter how uncomfortable they make me. I will periodically write about my journey into integrative medicine here on my blog.